Munster Junior Cup 4th Round (extra time & penalties if required).
Abbeyfeale United vs Youghal United.
Our first game of the weekend sees Abbeyfeale United take on Youghal United in our one and only Munster Junior Cup game. Youghal United hail from Cork and play in the Munster Senior League Junior Division One where they currently sit third behind UCC A and Cobh Wanderers with four wins, one draw and one loss and are nine points behind leaders Cobh Wanderers with three games in hand. Youghal started off in this competition with a 3-0 win against Leeside and followed this up with a 5-3 away win against Rockmount after extra-time in the second round before reaching their fourth round tie with Abbeyfeale by defeating UCC United 3-0. Some players of note for this Youghal United side are Leigh Desmond who has been among the scorers for his side and Niall Farrell who is as just as capable at creating goals as he is at scoring them. Abbeyfeale United snatched a draw at the death in Holycross last week and will be hoping of getting a win in this cup clash. Abbeyfeale had been unbeaten since April of 2016 before their loss to Navan Cosmos two weeks ago which is a sign of how consistent they can be. With their FAI Junior Cup run over, they will most definitely fancy their chances of getting far in this tournament and will be even more confident of a win on Sunday considering all the teams they have defeated this year. I think that Abbeyfeale will show their class on Sunday and return to winning ways with a win.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Abbeyfeale United.
Weekly Observer Premier Division.
Ballingarry AFC vs Killeaney.
Game one of the four Premier Division games on Sunday sees Ballingarry take on Killeaney. Ballingarry sit in seventh position in the table and are three points above the relegation zone with two games in hand and will want to be winning this game to keep themselves away from the drop zone. They are heading into their sixth home game in a row and their tenth in all competitions with five wins and four losses behind them at the Paddocks. Ballingarry have the second least amount of goals scored in the Premier Division but they have a far superior record in conceding goals than the teams around them in the table with the seventeen goals they have leaked putting them as the fifth best defensive side. They will be facing up to Killeaney for the second time this year as they picked up a 4-0 win when they travelled to Knockdown back in October in the second round of the FAI Junior Cup and will be very confident of recording another win over this side at home. Killeaney went three games since their last result when they lost 3-0 at home to Broadford United two weeks ago and will need to pick up their first win if they are to emerge from this relegation battle. Of the two draws they have picked up this year one of them has come on the road away to Athea United at The Vales which shows that they can record results on the road. Killeaney have scored no more than once in a game this year and have been kept scoreless in six of their ten league games so they will need to start hitting the net if they are to grab a result. Ballingarry have only really fell to strong opponents and have shown their worth against other good sides so I expect them to win on Sunday.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Ballingarry AFC.
Broadford United vs Carrig Celtic.
Broadford United return to the local leagues after their Munster Junior Cup game last week with a home game against Carrig Celtic. Their 5-0 win over Tower FC made it two wins and two clean sheets on the bounce. They have recovered well from their loss to Rathkeale at the start of the month and will be hoping of racking up more points on the league table with a win against Carrig Celtic in their first meeting of the season. Micheál Brosnan was on the mark for Broadford United yet again last Sunday with a brace and has been an essential part of their team, making him one of the main threats to Carrig Celtic on Sunday. Broadford have only played five times at home this season but have won four of them which will make them that bit harder to beat. Carrig Celtic came back from their five goal loss two weeks ago by defeating Newcastle West AFC 5-0 last Sunday which will act as a good confidence booster ahead of this game. Carrig had a poor run just before the end of the year but have shown a noticeable improvement since late December winning three of their last four games. Of their nine away games this year they have won five of them with their best and worst results both coming against Newcastle West Rovers. They have been prone to letting in goals with them conceding thirty times this season and having only kept two clean sheets. Three of the four losses have seen them lose by four or more goals which is something they will need to change if they are to notch points on the board. Broadford’s win last week was a sign of how good they are and I see them winning again this Sunday.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Broadford United.
Newcastle West AFC vs Athea United.
The big game at the bottom of the table sees Newcastle West AFC take on Athea United in a relegation six pointer in the Demesne. Both sides have played the same amount of games with Newcastle West being ninth in the table with four points while Athea United are eighth with six points. Newcastle fell to a 5-0 defeat when they travelled to Carrigkerry last Sunday but this game will be ten times more important for them. Newcastle were not as strong as they would like to have been last Sunday but should be better equipped this Sunday. There is no doubt that there is quality in the Newcastle side with Tony Quaid and Van Mambouana being mentioned countless times before. Newcastle have won twice in all competitions this year with both wins occurring at home so if there’s any place they will grab a result it’s at home. Athea United go into this game off the back of a 2-2 draw at home to Glin Rovers. A result that they would have been disappointed with considering their home advantage as well as Glin’s poor run on the road and they will look towards getting their their first away win this Sunday. With the exception of their 3-3 draw with Carrig Celtic earlier in the year they have fallen to defeat in their other four games but will be confident of a win this Sunday considering they have beaten Newcastle twice at the Vales this season. With Athea having won in those past two encounters I see them winning again on Sunday but I would imagine it would be a closer scoreline.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Athea United.
Newcastle West Rovers vs Rathkeale AFC.
The big game at the top of the table sees second placed Newcastle West Rovers take on league leaders Rathkeale in Woodfield. Rovers made it three wins in a row when they defeated Newcastle West AFC in their last outing and this is game on Sunday could drastically increase their title chances as a win would put them five points behind with a game in hand. From thirteen games they have only lost three times with one of them coming at home in one of their off-days when Carrig Celtic came out as 3-2 winners in their Munster Junior Cup game. They are deserving of their place high up the table with wins against Broadford United and Carrig Celtic along with a draw against Abbeyfeale United. They have some strong players such as Shane Stack on the left wing and James Cussen is close to a return to playing which would be a huge boost. Their thirty three goals from ten games sees them average three goals per game while their concession rate of only eleven goals is remarkable also as they have only conceded two goals at most in a league game. This is their second game of the season against Rathkeale as they fell to defeat last time in Holycross but they will be more confident this time with the string of results they have picked up since then along with their home advantage. While Rathkeale still remain undefeated in the league following their 2-2 draw at home to Abbeyfeale United last Sunday and they will want to make amends for dropping their first points of the season by returning to winning ways at the weekend. They have not lost in their last five games with their only loss on the road this year coming in extra-time against Broadford United. They have the best goal scoring record and least goals conceded in the league and have been very dominant throughout the season as can be seen by their eight point lead on Newcastle West Rovers. Rathkeale have had a flying season so far and are in a good position to win the league but I sense a draw between these two sides on Sunday.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Draw.
Weekly Observer Division 1.
Shannonside FC vs Breska Rovers.
Following Granagh United’s defeat last week, Shannonside can go top of the table with the same amount of games played as Granagh if they can overcome Breska Rovers on Sunday in our first Division One game of the weekend. Shannonside’s victory away to AK United last Sunday means that they are still undefeated in the league after thirteen games along with it being their fifth win in a row. Despite neither losing at home nor away in their league campaign this season, Shannonside have dropped four of their six points at home this year but have picked up good wins against Feenagh and Abbeyfeale United B in Borrigone also. They were narrow winners when they defeated Breska Rovers 3-2 in Clarina but not many have come close to them at home. Breska Rovers sit fifth in the table and would move up the fourth if they can win this Sunday. They have been unsuccessful in their last two league games and will want to end that run with a win against a side they were not far behind in their last encounter. In six games away from home they have come out with three wins, one draw and two losses with their wins against Pallaskenry and Rathkeale B being the most impressive. A 4-1 home win against Glantine is one instance of how good Breska Rovers are but Shannonside don’t look like slowing down and I see them winning on Sunday.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Shannonside FC.
Pallaskenry AFC vs Kildimo United.
A massive relegation six pointer sees Pallaskenry take on Kildimo United. Going in to this game Pallaskenry sit eighth in the table with ten points and have a game in hand along with a four point lead over Kildimo United in ninth. Pallaskenry’s 6-3 win against Feenagh two weeks ago was a big step towards survival and another three points against a side they defeated on the road back in September would be another huge step. Pallas have recorded a win and a draw in their last two games and are going into their eighth home game of the year with two wins, one draw and four losses behind them. Their concession of goals has been a big problem for them this season with them having the most goals conceded in their division at forty four. They are having to do a lot of work to get wins having conceded five goals in total in their two victories and will need to tighten up in defense for this key game if they are to emerge with a win. Kildimo United narrowly lost out to Glantine last Sunday which made it six games without a win for them. They sit ninth in the table as previously mentioned but Feenagh are hot on their tail in tenth as they are two points behind with a game in hand. Kildimo will need to win this game just as much as Pallaskenry and although their away record of two wins and five losses is not favourable, those two victories were against good sides in Rathkeale B and Glantine. While Pallas’ problem is conceding, Kildimo’s problem is more on the attacking front as they have the second least amount of goals scored in the league and have been kept scoreless in five of their thirteen games. Darragh Deegan has been one of the main scorers for this side and will need to be on form again in this big tie. There’s not a whole pile between both of these sides but with Pallas managing to win 3-2 in Kildimo I think they will be capable of winning at home.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Pallaskenry AFC.
AK United vs Rathkeale B.
We will wrap up Division One with seventh placed AK United taking on sixth placed Rathkeale B in Kilcornan. AK lost out by a single goal to title contenders Shannonside and will look to learn from that loss with a win against Rathkeale. Eight of the twelve points they have recorded this year have come in Kilcornan with wins against Feenagh and Kildimo United along with draws against Breska Rovers and Pallaskenry in their first two games of the season. With the exception of a 4-0 home loss to Granagh United they have never been far behind when playing in their own backyard and will be even more competitive against a side they were not far behind in Holycross. Although they are six points above the relegation zone with a game in hand, a victory for them this weekend would put them in a far more comfortable position. Rathkeale B won 2-0 away to Kildimo United last week and will look to do the double over AK when they face off on Sunday. Their victory against AK United last time was their first home league win surprisingly as most of the points have come on the road this season. Their away win against Abbeyfeale United B was a great result as was there 5-5 draw in Pallaskenry and these are just two examples of what this reserve side can do away from home. I find this one a difficult one to call and would not be surprised at the result but I think AK United might just edge it.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: AK United.
Weekly Observer Division 2.
Ballysteen AFC vs St. Ita’s.
All three Division Two games promise to be competitive as Ballysteen take on St. Ita’s in our first. Ballysteen currently sit in a great position at the top of the table as they are three points ahead of Adare United with three games in hand to their advantage. They have won their last three games with twelve goals scored, three conceded and one clean sheet. They have yet to lose in the league and a league title will be their main goal considering they are no longer in the Richard Hogan and Riedy Joinery Cups. Their 4-0 away win against Adare United was a bold statement of intent that they want to win this league badly and that win was one of their many convincing league wins which include a 4-1 away win against St. Ita’s on the first day along with a 6-1 win at home to Askeaton on the second. Their only two losses at home this year have come at the hands of Listowel Celtic and Carrig Celtic so they will be tough to beat this Sunday. St. Ita’s will look to play their first game of the new year at the weekend as they received a walkover for their first game of 2017 and were unable to play two weeks ago due to an unplayable pitch. Their last game in December saw them defeat Ballysteen 4-1 in the Richard Hogan Cup and so they will be confident of doing the same when they travel to Ballysteen considering their good away record. From nine games away from home they have gathered six wins, one draw and two losses so they won’t be put off by an away trip. It’s a tough one to call as both sides have beaten each other by the same scoreline but I think Ballysteen have been the more convincing side over the course of the season and that they will win on Sunday.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Ballysteen.
Adare United vs Askeaton AFC.
Adare United will look to return to winning ways when they take on Askeaton for the second time this season. 2017 has not been too kind to Adare as they have lost their three games since the turn of the year and have been kept scoreless twice. They now find themselves three points behind league leaders Ballysteen who have three games in hand while Askeaton and St. Ita’s are not far off as they are both three points behind Adare with two games in hand. Adare return home after last week’s away game but have dropped eight of their fourteen points in their backyard. While they have recorded good wins against Rockhill Rovers and Shountrade, losses to Newcastle West Rovers B and Ballysteen along with a draw with Glin Rovers B have cost them. Askeaton’s victory at the start of the month made it four in a row and they will be confident of a win on Sunday against a side they kept a clean sheet against at home. Their capabilities away from home have been lacking this year with two wins and one draw from seven games in all competitions but their last away victory against Bally Rovers might be a sign of change. Askeaton really need to get a result from this game if they are to challenge for promotion while Adare need a result for the same reason. This is a tough game to call which I feel will end in a stalemate.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Draw.
Shountrade AFC vs Newcastle West Rovers B.
Division Two is rounded off with the third encounter between Shountrade and Newcastle West Rovers B this season. Shountrade’s five game win streak ended at the hands of Ballysteen last week in a close defeat but they can take solace in a loss to a top side like Ballysteen and will see this game on Sunday as an opportunity to bounce back. Shountrade will be playing their fifth home game in a row and their ninth of the season. With five wins, one draw and two losses in Kiltannan they will be confident of overturning a side they defeated by three goals away from home earlier in the season. Newcastle West Rovers B defeated Adare United in their last game. A great result away from home which will stand to them as they travel to a place which is difficult to return from with something to show for. Rovers B have not lost in their last two games and go into this game with three wins from seven on the road. Their win against Adare United will stand out as the most remarkable while victories against both Bally Rovers and Glin Rovers B are not to be ignored either. Both sides have a victory over each other with Rovers winning 6-0 at home first time around and Shountrade winning 5-2 in Woodfield in November in the Richard Hogan Cup. With Shountrade seeming to get better and better I think that they will have enough to win this one.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Shountrade.
Weekly Observer Division 3.
Carrig Celtic B vs Ferry Rangers.
Division Three kicks off with Carrig Celtic B taking on Ferry Rangers at home. Carrig are going in to this game off the back of their 3-0 loss to Glantine B which made it two losses on the trot for them and they will need every point they can get if they are to push for promotion. Three of their four wins in the league have come at home this season with their 2-1 win against Knockaderry being the best of the lot. They only lost out by a goal when they lost 2-1 to Ferry back in September so if they can use their home advantage as well as they have in the past then they could very well get a result. Ferry picked up a 2-1 win away to Feenagh B last Sunday and made it four wins in a row in all competitions and nine league games without a loss in the process. With the exception of Division Two’s Shountrade who defeated them 6-2, no side has really been able to keep up with Ferry. Their Reidy Joinery Cup win over Rathkeale B will go down as their best result of the year while in the league their wins over Newcastle West B and their opponents this Sunday have shown how good they can be. It was a close contest last time around and I expect it to be much the same on Sunday with Ferry coming out as winners again.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Ferry Rangers.
Creeves Celtic vs Newcastle West B.
The big Division Three game of the weekend sees two of the biggest promotion contenders in the division face off as Newcastle West B travel to Newbridge to take on Creeves Celtic. At present, Newcastle West B are second in the table on seventeen points while Creeves lie in fourth and are four points behind on thirteen points with the same number of games played. Creeves fell to a second successive loss on Sunday when Glantine B pipped them by the odd goal in five and a win on Sunday is absolutely crucial at this stage of the year if they are to get promoted. Creeves have suffered on the road but have flourished at home this season. Despite losing their first two games at home to Knockaderry in the league and St. Ita’s in extra-time in the Richard Hogan Cup, they have won their last four by at least a two goal margin including a 3-0 win against St. Ita’s in the Riedy Joinery Cup. While Newcastle West B recorded their second win in as many games with a 2-1 win at home to Knockaderry. Newcastle’s two losses this year have come at the hands of Ferry Rangers and they have been able to grab at least a draw against everyone else in the league and were winners the last time they met Creeves Celtic. With five away games under their belt in all competitions this season, they have recorded two wins, one draw and two losses. Their 1-0 win away to Knockaderry is a great result considering how strong they are at home while their 3-2 loss against Pallaskenry is admirable considering the two division gap between both teams. With Creeves having bad results in their last two games you would have to think that they would come out of their slumber for a big game like this. Creeves are a fantastic team that are as good as any other on their day and could very well win this game but I feel that Newcastle have built up a lot of steam heading into this contest and will pick up the victory.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Newcastle West B.
Feenagh B vs Glantine B.
The final contest of the weekend sees two teams that are very close to each other in Division Three do battle with Feenagh B facing off against Glantine B. Feenagh B lost out to Ferry Rangers in their last game and will see this game on Sunday as a big opportunity for them to get a win. They shared the points with Glantine B despite holding a 2-0 lead late in the game but the comfort of being at home might prevent that from happening again. Their 2-2 draw at home with promotion contenders Newcastle West B earlier in the season was a great result and a good sign of what they can do and if they can be that good on Sunday there is no doubting they can win. Glantine B have really turned their season around with two wins in their last two games. A 3-2 win against Creeves Celtic last Sunday was a massive win for them considering how good of a side Creeves are and so they will look to build on that and make it three in a row this weekend. Glantine B have recorded two wins and a draw in all competitions with all of them coming at home so they will be faced with the challenge of recording their first away win against a side who have been at their best at home. With the run Glantine B are on I see them winning this Sunday.
StoppageTime.ie Prediction: Glantine B.